Saturday 20 November 2010

What a WEEK!

This last week, in fact this last fortnight has been seriously busy and difficult at work so I've had no time to do much more than sleep, commute, work, commute, cook, eat, sleep.  Writing here, social media and human interactions have fallen utterly by the wayside.  Quality time with kitties and Mr TOTKat has dropped well below the levels I'm happy with, but we went out to a gig at Koko last night and spent the whole time lounging on a sofa in the lounge bar, listening to the music and watching the stage via a screen in the lounge.  That was sooooo nice.

The lack of time outside of work-related activity has been frustrating and left me with little energy or enthusiasm to cook and prepare meals.  So, aside from a planned meal out on Tuesday, I've ended up buying lunch twice this week and we had fish and chips on Thursday night so I'm feeling pretty down about my diet.  If I stand back and look at the grand scheme of things, I'm still in a much much better place than a large proportion of the population in terms of minimising consumption of hugely processed food that's prepared by someone else/in a factory (even my fish and chips is made from scratch in the shop, the two lunches were Pho soups from EAT, who are relatively "good"and the meal out was Pizza Express which although it was pizza, again the ingredients aren't too bad compared with, say, a frozen pizza from Iceland).

I have managed to cycle to work and back twice, been to the gym twice so far and run home the last 6.2km of the journey on one day; with a planned gym session tomorrow and perhaps a run later today.  That's pretty good on the exercise front, so at least that's fared well even if I've ended up with 4 out of 40 meals (and I'm calling all of the times I eat during the day a meal as they roughly work out as a sort-of even spread of kcals throughout the day) not made by me.  Cor!  Er.  Now I look at it, that's only 10% of the number of meals (though it's 24% of the total kcals of the week, which is not ideal but still not terrible when my aim is 80:20 clean:dirty).  I am usually so much better than that, which is I guess why I'm so horrified at what's happened this week.  I don't mean in a supercilious or holier-than-thou way, I have just always been pretty keen on making stuff from scratch even before I got healthier; it's how I was brought up - food just doesn't come in packets or cardboard boxes and jars of ready-made stuff.  I've never understood the likes of Findus Crispy Pancakes or the kind of stuff you get from Iceland - that's not food!

Am I being unfair on Iceland here?  I know I have a similar opinion on Aldi, Kwik Save, Lidl etc. but that's probably because I've never set foot in one of those and all I know of them is the adverts on television for packaged, factory made, hugely processed foods made with low-quality ingredients and flogged off for ridiculously low prices.  Is it an unfair judgement on these shops?  Am I just being a food snob?


  1. Is it an unfair judgement on these shops?

    No. But the they're responding to the demands of the market, which is fuelled partly by how the house-cook was raised and partly by the manufacturers' marketing campaigns. All of which leads to less fresh produce being available - and not only in the supermarkets you cite here. Been to France lately? Processed foods and ready-prepared meals are taking over the supermarkets there too.

    Don't beat yourself up too much. It's increasingly difficult to source fresh produce and to find time in a busy week to prepare balanced meals. We used to 'batch cook' at weekends but, as you know, that takes quite a chunk out of the R&R time.

  2. Sourcing -so- is not the problem (Ocado and Abel and Cole are my friends here for good quality, well-sourced produce which is increasingly British and produced with no added hormones and anti-biotics etc.), it's time. And I usually make time as it's not a huge amount that's needed but this week was pretty hellish.

  3. Problem with using the likes of Ocado and Abel and Cole is that they are quite expensive. The market is geared to the 'average' shopper and not everyone can afford the higher prices. I'd dearly love to buy my fresh produce from local producers (eg the Food Barn or Allingham the meat/game butcher) but the one-stop supermarket shop is so convenient and much cheaper.

    Having said that, even the more expensive supermarkets such as Waitrose have expanded the 'ready-prepared' section and reduced the fresh produce.

  4. I can't abide iceland, lidl and aldi are ok for cheap fruit and veg and even nuts, dried herbs etc but nowt else! I certainly don't think your a food snob because you feel this way. Time is such a big factor when your looking to cook from scratch, I guess it comes down to good organisation too! Try not to beat yourself up about it, I think all you can do sometimes is make the best choice you can with the situation your in, if that happens to be something processed but still healthy its always better than a maccy D's!

  5. Hesadevil: mm, but the point with M&S, Waitrose and Abel and Cole is that the quality of the produce is really good. You pay for quality if you want it and I do. The potatoes and carrots we've been getting from Abel and Cole are the tastiest yet, not grown using soil and pest products that screw up the soil so it gets harder and harder to get good yields so farmers end up in a spiral of having to use more and more chemical assistance to get anything out of the ground that the EU will pay them a subsidy for... I'm really loving Abel and Cole for the seasonal produce - game is on special offer at the moment so I have 2x pheasants for 6 quid and that's 4 decent meal's worth of meat plus and extra couple of soups; their minced venison is nicer, cheaper and tastier than the Ocado 5% fat beef mince etc.

    I think affordability is a total red herring when you keep seeing what the "average" people prefer to spend their money on; games consoles for the kids every Christmas, mobile phones for hundreds of pounds for birthdays, new cars and "designer label" clothes. It's about priorities and the advertising companies have screwed it right towards high profit margin, aspirational goods and well away from clean, healthy food.

  6. Laura: you're so right. Sometimes it's just a bit hard and you have to relax the standards a bit in order to allow yourself a bit of breathing space.

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  8. It's about priorities and the advertising companies have screwed it right towards high profit margin, aspirational goods and well away from clean, healthy food.
    And there is the problem in a nutshell.

    This whole topic is about 'choice' (and you know my views on designer lables and materialism in general), but there are people on low incomes who do have their priorites right, for whom the choice is not so easy. Much as they'd like to buy clean, healthy food, its prices are too high, so they opt for the next best thing.

    Fresh produce is affordable, it's just not as available as it once was. The balance between ready-made and fresh has shifted dramatically in the past decade. Iceland, for example, was the place we used to shop for frozen produce - vegetables, fish, and meat. I never shop there now because it's mostly ready-made products for sale.

  9. I like aldi and lidl for cheap fruit and veg and like Laura said the nuts are usually ok in there too. It frustrates me sooo much that the junk food is so much cheaper than the healthy food. I often think if I didn't mind what I put in my body I'd have so much spare cash!